Push for $2.7b to build 5000 youth housing properties

·2-min read
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Cathy Beacham was heavily pregnant and had escaped family violence when she was confronted by the prospect of becoming homeless.

The then-17-year-old reached out for support from her midwife, who instead called child protection not knowing what else to do, making Ms Beacham feel degraded and fear her baby would be taken away.

It wasn't until Ms Beacham got in touch with community organisation Melbourne City Mission she was finally heard and helped.

Now living with two young children in temporary housing in Melbourne while she awaits a permanent home, the 19-year-old considers herself one of the lucky ones.

"(My caseworker) heard my story and she felt really bad for me and she picked it up a lot quicker than I was meant to be picked up," Ms Beacham said.

"I was lucky because I took it upon myself to find my own supports when (the midwife) told me that she didn't know (what to do)."

The Council to Homeless Persons is lobbying the Victorian government to invest $2.7 billion into building 5000 new social housing properties for young people over the next four years, to help fight the youth homelessness crisis.

The advocacy organisation suggests while some young people do get help when they ask for it, many face dire straits when they seek support from homelessness services.

More than 16,000 young people sought help from homelessness services in Victoria in 2021-22, council chief executive Deborah Di Natale said.

But of the more than 8000 who needed medium or long-term accommodation, more than half were turned away without getting a home or a referral to another service.

"(Young people) are typically on lower incomes and are often dealing with complex challenges such as mental health concerns, family violence, neglect and abuse," Ms Di Natale said.

"Youth-specific and evidence-based solutions are needed to address these barriers."

The social housing targeted towards young people should include standalone accommodation and units, and form part of a suite of measures that collectively aim to end Victoria's youth homelessness crisis, the council said.

Among the measures pitched ahead of the state's budget being handed down on Tuesday, the council is lobbying the government to put $83.9 million towards a rental income subsidy to help more young people get into social housing.

It also wants the government to pour $154.8m into giving young people specialist mental health, employment and education support to help them stay in housing.

"Our proposals will help ensure young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness receive the support they need to access safe, stable housing so they can achieve their potential and thrive into adulthood," Ms Di Natale said.

The council, in a budget submission, has also called for the government to overhaul social housing supply.